Liz, Pierre and Siri

I need to find myself a larger home. I’m not kidding. It seems the one I’m living in isn’t big enough anymore. Not since my new roommates moved in. The ones that go by the name of Liz, Pierre and Siri.

Oh, I haven’t told you about them?  Well, allow me to fill you in.

Henry doesn't know what to make of all these roommates.

Liz has been living with me for two years now, ever since I got my new Camry back in 2010. She’s my GPS assistant, and knows this city like the back of her hand. If she had one, that is.

In fact, Liz knows how to get around anywhere in the whole country, probably even Canada and Mexico, assuming we ever ventured out there. Unfortunately, the only place she can’t get me to is Hawaii.

I know this because, on a lark, I once asked her to take us there.  We got as far as the Pacific Ocean, which means we drove west for 8 minutes. Once there, she broke down in tears, realizing she didn’t know the rest of the way. And, I didn’t have the heart to tell her it would be impossible to get there, anyhow, by crossing the ocean in a car.

“What can I tell you?” she said, “I’m landlocked.”

“Don’t worry, Liz. I know it’s not your fault.”

“I’m only human,” she replied, choking on her words.

“Well, actually, about that,” I said.

Then there’s Pierre, whom I assume is French Canadian. I don’t know why I assume this,  except that his accent is rather robotic and clearly that can only mean he’s from Canada. He may even be an undocumented worker—one never knows with Canadians. Every time I ask him for his identification papers he ignores me, but, I put up with him because he’s my butler. And by butler I mean, he takes phone messages for me when I’m away.  Though lately, he hasn’t had much to do, given that I’ve rid myself of my landline once and for all.

My latest roommate arrived last month when I joined the millions of cell phone users who depend on Siri, that clever gal who comes with her very own iPhone 4S.

My only problem, is that I’ve yet to get into the habit of using Siri. I mean, here I have a helper, a personal assistant and I don’t delegate anything to her! I’m still doing it all myself, while she props her feet on my coffee table, watches TV all day long and waits for me to give her something to do. Go figure.

So, the other day, I decided it was time to sit down with the roomies and tell them that, from now on, they’d have to pull their weight.

Which is when Pierre, said, “Excuse me, I think I hear the phone ringing,” and left.

Liz, said, “Don’t pressure me. I’m still feeling bad about our ill-fated trip to Hawaii.”

Siri, flippantly added, “How much are you going to pay me? I’m an Apple and I don’t come cheap, you know.”

Which is when I replied, “Well, then, what good are you, roommates, if you can’t help around the house? Can you at least help me with my blog?”

Liz offered, “I can do a blog on the best way to get from California to New York,” to which, I shook my head and said “I think that’s already been done by a guy named Mapquest.”

Pierre yelled from the kitchen, “Don’t look at me for help! I’m all thumbs when it comes to typing.”

Siri added, “The best thing I can do for you is remind you when it’s time to write your blog. That’s my forte.”

“You mean, you can nag her about it, right Siri?” Pierre said sarcastically.

“Alright, alright,“ I replied, feeling defeated.  “You guys are a bunch of freeloaders, so forget I said anything.”

“Great!” said Liz. “How about you make it up to us by taking us to see a movie? I know a great drive-in and can get us there in not time flat.”

“I can look it up and tell you the schedule,” chimed in Siri.

“I’d make us a reservation for dinner but, Mon Cherie, you got rid of the landline.”

“Okay, okay, enough! I’m not going anywhere with you guys until you learn to tow the line.” And, with that, I went upstairs.

Which is when Siri turned on the Tivo, and the four of them sat down for a game of Canasta, followed by a round of Word with Friends.

Dear Landline, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Oh landline of mine, I owe you a big apology. I thought I could save some money by cutting you out of my life.  I contemplated this for weeks, and then I made the phone call to AT&T.  This was it. “Cancel my service,” I said, without skipping a beat. I’m over the home phone. I don’t need it. I’ve got my cell phone, after all.

Oh, Rotary Phone! Now this was when a phone was a phone and nothing else. No texting, no checking email. Just talking on the phone. Alas, a relic from another day.

I figured I’d get some push back from AT&T, but all I got from the other end of the line was, “Do you want it shut off today or later this week?”

“Today!” was my eager reply. Absolutely.  Can’t wait! And then I hung up, satisfied that I’d just saved myself some 40 bucks per month.  Which is when panic set in.

Oh, landline, how could I be so foolish, so cavalier about something that’s been a part of me all of my life?  Without you, how will the telemarketers get a hold of me?  How will the credit companies call me incessantly to offer me protection against identity theft?  And how will I know when my air conditioner is in need of a check-up?

Worse, what if there’s an earthquake or some other calamity?  How will the folks at  reverse 9-1-1 know how to call and warn me to evacuate? OK, you get the picture. Nobody calls me at home anymore except sales people, repairmen, and on occasion my brother from Boca. But still, what makes me think I can live without you, my little lifeline?

As kids, we dreamed of having a video phone, much like the one the Jetson's had. Pre-Skype. Pre-iPhone 4.

Call it a lapse in judgment. Call me crazy or simply sentimental. Call me old school. Whatever the reason, my phone, my landline, I can no sooner part with you than I can sever my pinkie—no matter how useless it is.  And though I may be young at heart, the comforts of my age will prevail, which is why, landline, you are here to stay.

Of course, thinking of you reminds me of past phones I’ve had in my home. Like my first one in Queens, which was a black rotary phone, the kind you use your index finder to rotate the dial clockwise, then releasing when you hit the finger stop.  Not as complicated as it sounds, it is now a relic from another day, as I’m sure that not many people today have ever used such a phone.

In my day, we didn’t own the phone, we rented it from Ma Bell and our phone numbers included letters. I still remember my first phone number, AX7-2822. Then came the princess phone in pastel pink or powder blue. I would’ve killed for one of those.  Throughout the years, there have been other developments in the home phone biz, including push button phones (goodbye, rotary!) and cordless. We’re a mobile society after all, and no stinkin’ cord was going to tie us down!

We dreamed of video phones as seen in The Jetsons, but that never really materialized—except on Skype. We fantasized about having a shoe phone like the one Agent 86 had in Get Smart, but, at the time, a portable phone that wasn’t a landline seemed outrageously beyond the realm of belief.

The first mobile phone was probably this one, owned by Agent 86, Maxwell Smart on the classic TV show, "Get Smart."

And now, my precious landline, you have become just another casualty of the past, thanks to Generation X, Y and whatever. They don’t have the history or the bonds that we boomers have with our home phones. They don’t own one and they don’t see why we still hold on to ours.  Not even my son can figure out why I care so much about you, given that I have a cell phone.

But cell phones are fickle and disconnect calls in a flash.  Whereas you, my landline, are old reliable.  Which is why I’m holding on to my 40-bucks-a-month habit.  To paraphrase the late, gun-toting advocate, Charlton Heston,

If they want my landline, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

So, landline, can you ever forgive me? Surely, I’m not the only one who’s tried this and failed?